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The Audacity of Republicans going nuclear Against Health Care

The big news today is that the Democratic Congressional leaders met last night and it seems that we’ll need only 51 votes to pass that rumored overhaul of our health care system.  Which gives us some leeway to account for the almost sure-loss of all Republican and some Democratic votes (emphasis mine):

Democrats’ Budget Deal Sets Up Fight on Health Plan

Democratic Congressional leaders were putting the finishes touches Friday on a budget plan virtually certain to protect a proposed health care overhaul from Senate filibusters, an approach likely to touch off a nasty partisan fight with Republicans.

Principals in the talks acknowledged that a tentative budget agreement reached Thursday night between Congressional leaders and the White House would provide for the use of an obscure procedure known as a reconciliation on a health care bill, allowing health care legislation that meets budget targets to be approved by a simple Senate majority.

This news (which has been discussed for weeks) is shocking to Republican Senators! They’ve never, ever heard of such a thing and can’t imagine why the Democrats are breaking the faith of Obama’s bi-partisan pledges to pull a maneuver like this:

GOP Senators Who Used Budget Reconciliation To Pass Bush Agenda Items Now Calling It ‘Chicago Style Politics’

On NPR this morning, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) repeated a now familiar attack on budget reconciliation:

BOND: “In this post-partisan time of Barack Obama, we’re seeing a little Chicago politics. They steamroller those who disagree with them, then, I guess in Chicago, they coat them in cement and drop them in the river.” [NPR, 3/24/09]

Bond appears to be parroting his colleague Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), who said any use of budget reconciliation by President Obama would be “regarded as an act of violence” against Republicans, and likened it to “running over the minority, putting them in cement and throwing them in the Chicago River.” Other GOP senators have chimed in against reconciliation, with Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) calling it a “purely partisan exercise” and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) saying it “would be a mess.”

Despite their howls against Obama, Republicans employed the same procedure to pass major Bush agenda items (which were supported by all four aforementioned Senators):

— The 2001 Bush Tax Cuts [HR 1836, 3/26/01]
— The 2003 Bush Tax Cuts [HR 2, 3/23/03]
— Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 [HR 4297, 5/11/06]
— The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 [H. Con Res. 95, 12/21/05]

Follow the link to find a more complete list of Republican use of “reconciliation” to get legislation passed without a filibuster-proof majority. Shockingly, they’ve used it 17 times since 1980. Have you wondered why Republicans so easily passed controversial legislation with without the Democrats so much as attempting a filibuster?  Well THAT is how it happened . . . .

But, it’s unconscionable now?  Oh, really?

Apparently Republicans are willing to shut down the Senate if it will keep the rabble out of their doctor’s office.  Frankly, when I consider that the stimulus package passed without a single Republican vote, I have no doubt at all that they’re serious about this threat.  And, after all, they’ve done it before.

I have no idea how useful the legislation will be — That NY Times article says that the details of the Health Care legislation nearly finalized. But, I think some of the details are being deliberately obscured:

Two Health Care Must-Reads

Baucus’s public plan would (or could be) big enough to compete with the insurance company plans, driving the prices down and spurring competition. Lewin’s analyst, John Sheils, notes that “both proposals envision a major role for employers in a reformed health care system,” but that each proposal would lead to at least some loss of employer provided health insurance.” The group has previously estimated that most Americans would drop their insurance and buy into the public plan; the report doesn’t quite say it, but I know Baucus, in crafting his bill now, is playing with the idea of creating a public plan that would somehow hover above the market for a while…giving the market a chance to meet the challenge before true competition begins. (emphasis mine)

That bolded phrase? . . . It makes me feel like this.  Because if anyone on Capitol Hill thinks that regular Americans can buy into a public plan that hovers above the market — even “for a while” is wrong, wrong wrong.  And they’re completely missing the urgency of the situation.

So, on one side we have the Republicans who don’t want health care legislation to pass almost no matter how it looks.  And they’re talking about shutting down the Senate to prove their point. On the other side are the Democrats who are trapped between voters who are barely hanging on to their health insurance and the insurance companies who will do anything to bleed us dry.

And who knows how this is going to turn out.


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94 Responses

  1. But they might not if Social security is thrown under the bus – as mentioned in my too hip for you entry

    • I keep hearing this: that BO is planning on “reforming” Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to pay for all of these programs. In other words, rationing. That’s why they are not worrying about running up these deficits. Republicans who suspect this are, of course, in agreement with this idea, but the Administration is not revealing it because they know it will trigger outrage.

  2. no mattert of or what this new bill say . i dont thinki can ever again thrust thes dems to keep there word ..
    and that gose for most of these reps ./ it seems they stoped representing the people along time ago.
    they are makeing every mistake the bush reps made & im sure they will probley suffer the same fate ….

    • i don’t want to seem harsh ok yes i do anyone the vote & supports these same scum deserves what they get ..
      for the some that think that the county’s going the right direction as in seem some polls which are probably staged that indicate the some do think that..& in sure there are some that do think that.. then they should not complain that if they have lost there home life savings or jobs.. because they think berrys moving the country in the right direction

      • I agree with boogieman. I don’t trust the Dems any farther than I can throw them, especially not on an issue as important to me as UHC. I supported Hillary largely because she spent 35 years trying to get single-payer UHC enacted. Obama NEVER supported single-payer UHC, which is why I would not support him to begin with. And then after all that went down in the primaries, I wouldn’t touch Obama with a ten-foot pole no matter if he vowed to personally cover all of my mother’s doctor bill out of his own private bank account. I voted for Nader in the GE because he made a huge issue out of his own support of single-payer UHC and O’s opposition to it.

        I wouldn’t trust Obama to get the trash picked up on time, let alone to put our health care system in better shape. As far as I’m concerned, if the current Dems go after health care, we may all end up with even higher costs, and as Edge of Forever pointed out, we may all lose something on Social Security as the Repub-demanded giveback.

        • At this point trust isn’t the issue. Something is happening. And this is REALLY the time to hold some feet to the fire. Write letters. Make phone calls.

          • I am with you on this KatieBird as Universal Health Care is dear to my heart. Also, if they want to call a person a ‘Socialist’ for advocating and wanting Universal Health Care I say go ahead and call me one, because we are one of the last Western Countries to be without it. Also, Medicare (Part A, B & C) and Social Security are based on this concept, but the Republicans would dare call that ‘Socialist’…NOOOO, because they would get their hinnies handed to them come election day by the Seniors (you know those people that volunteer and vote).

      • They aren’t going to give the American People Universal Health Care until they lose their coverage which is top rate and paid by the tax payers. One thing that I can’t get my mind around is why they keep tricking us and we keep voting them back in. Just look at Biden’s 26+ years in the Senate and he never took up Universal Health Care…why? Because he was covered for life by the tax payers.

        Do you remember Obama saying his plan was the same as Hillary’s and the press nodded in agreement. 😯 Remember he said we would have a plan like the one he had as a Senator? Well, I am still waiting. 🙄

        • Actually, “Members of Congress receive retirement and health benefits under the same plans available to other federal employees. They become vested after five years of full participation.”

          I can’t find the page I read last week about this issue but somewhere I read that they (federal employees) pay about 25% of the cost of the plan they select themselves.

          (I’m tired of waiting too…. But, they say something will happen in June & I’m pretending it’s Christmas)

          • KB — it’s more than 25% – closer to 30%. Current average cost of family plan is about 1100 / month under FEB. Monthly cost to employees is about 380.

          • It’s hard to find info on it. Maybe because there’s so much news about the pending legislation swamping the search engines. I think the page I saw last week was dated (2005 or earlier) but, like I said, I couldn’t find it again today.

            I’m glad to know the real figures. It makes my eyeballs jump around when people keep saying it’s “free” — For guys making what Congress does it might not be a huge bite but for many of the rest of the Federal Employees it’s too much. (just like employees everywhere)

          • KatieBird,

            Good point as their is no other job except a CEO of a multimillion dollar company that vests an employee after 5 years. Heck, if we as workers/tax payers should be vested too, into Universal Health Care. Yea!

            Thanks for peeling away their secret allure to serve…

            We should write a song about us waiting and waiting for UHC…

            I keep waiting,
            You promised,
            and I keep waiting…

          • Woman Voter,
            Your comment reminded me of the reason behind my final falling out with a long-time-friend. As a legislator he sponsored a bill that made legislators eligible for full-retirement after serving 10 years in the legislature. Employees in the state were at that time vested after 10 years — but they couldn’t retire at that point!! I had managed his last campaign and I felt totally betrayed at his greed.

            One of the things they’re trying now (to make the retirement plan more secure) is to vest everyone after 5 years….. So that much benefit is becoming more common.

          • How many jobs offer you a big bonus when you retire after ruining the company?

          • The calculations are online.

          • You can find some of the info here:

            http://www.opm.gov/insure/health/index.asp

            You can see the rates for various plans here:

            http://www.opm.gov/insure/health/rates/index.asp

            Note that postal employees do not pay as much as regular federal employees.

        • i,m afraid we will be waiting a long time for that..

      • i’m just waiting for this to be a huge bone thrown to insurance companies given how in bed the Obama administration has been with the financial industry in general and Goldman Sachs specifically

        • Me too. I try to remain hopeful but I have absolutely no trust in this administration. They could care less about us. They have their masters to answer to, and that’s not the American people.

  3. Hi KB-I came across this, this morning-so thought I’d post a link. npr-Health Care for all-a run down of HC systems in Germany, Switzerland, France, UK , and the Netherlands.

    http://tinyurl.com/57lt5v

    BTW I just wanted to suggest that you and RD could do a blogtalk on losing weight-if RD’s slashing thru the blogging fat-I’d like to know how !!!

  4. OT-a nice video of Hillary in Iraq from the BBC. She’s someone to be so proud of.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8017856.stm

  5. Great post, Katiebird! I can’t begin to imagine what they kind of health care overhaul they are planning. Didn’t Obama say there would be a national conversation with discussions on TV that we could all watch? I guess I heard wrong.

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • Listen, if they get blocked they should out smart them and offer Medicare to all and there is no way Republicans are going to call medicare ‘Socialist’…they all have to see their senior constituents. Nothing like seniors with pitch forks to greet you!

      I remember one senior that dropped by and wanted to give someone a caning and asking others to join. 😯 She read they were going after social security and medicare.

      • I’ve read OBAMA is going after Soc. Sec. & Medicare/aid–that’s how he plans to pay down the deficit. Beware.

  6. Happy Birthday, Katiebird!!!

  7. Happy Bday KatieBird!!

  8. Ain’t politics grand. The Republicans are shocked by the Democrats doing what they spent so many years doing. Hey, perhaps they’re shocked because they never imagined the Democrats actually doing something.

    But sadly given that both parties are owned by the same lovely people, I’m not holding my breath that anything really useful will happen. Especially as it’s all happening in secret. But I’m sure they’d never do anything that’s not in our best interest. 🙂

  9. All the times reconciliation was used was for tax and buget purposes. The Republicans never used it to cram down domestic policy.

    Something as important as Healthcare deserves an honest debate among Americans. Not all Americans want the Government running thier famlies healthcare.

    I think what the Obama Administration is doing by not putting this out for public debate is wrong and immoral.

    • “Something as important as Healthcare deserves an honest debate among Americans. Not all Americans want the Government running thier famlies healthcare.”

      (laughing) Silly girl! Every option I’ve heard discussed bends over backwards to make sure everyone can keep the private insurance they have if the wish.

      (giggle) So stick with your corporate murderers if you want — it’s no skin off my nose.

      • (guffaw) corporate murderers? greedy rotten bastards, yes but murderers? skinned your own nose, well credibility anyway.

        • Huh! The insurers I’ve had to battle for my patients? Most recent was the insurer who wanted to stop coverage of a drug which improved the patient’s chronic neurological disease to the point he now walks unassisted. The patient’s view of the insurance company? “They want to cut my legs off now.”

        • Skinned my nose? How?

          People die as a result of that greed. They die because access to procedures is delayed or withheld completely. They die because they are denied coverage of certain conditions. They die because their policies are cancelled.

          When people die because of actions that are deliberately taken by people who fully understand the end result of that action then I call it murder.

          • The term “depraved indifference” comes to mind.

          • I am worried about rationing–especially if BO goes after Medicare/aid. There is no way to afford everything without cuts somewhere. I also read a report that said this will seriously curtail pharma and technological R&D because there will be no economic incentive. I’m not sure about any of that–RD, I’m sure you would know. Thoughts? (I’m not claiming to be an authority, just some concerns about who will be left out with BO’s plan).

          • To the contrary, there have been several studies done.

        • It’s very like murder, whether by individual “greedy rotten bastards” who happen to work for insurance corporations, for lobbyists, or for Congress/State govt, or by corporations as rule setting entities themselves.

          Remember SM and her tonsils, then take a look at this link and weep: “MS Patient Falls Into American Insurance Gap”
          http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92067101

    • How is using a procedural trick to allow the Congressional majority to pass a much needed piece of legislation immoral?

      It may shock you but I am very well acquainted with immorality and this isn’t the kind of stuff that goes on in sleazy dives and other dens of iniquity.

      • But whatever happened to a system of checks and balances–and an open debate? If they lose–which they will–fine, but to use cheap tricks like the GOP just makes the Dems the new GOP. I’m sick of it all. Just debate the damn ideas and the let the votes decide. Sort of like an election without meddling…but I guess that’s naive in politics, that they would actually uphold founding principles.

        • Reply to SOD @ 1:34: I know Hillary’s plan explained the cost savings if ALL are covered, but that’s why I’m concerned. Obama’s plan has never agreed to cover everyone, and they are discussing a private/public hybrid to placate insurers.

    • Something as important as Healthcare deserves an honest debate among Americans.

      An honest debate among money loving Senators?????

  10. Well, after a nurse re-evaluating my mother provoked her AND me yesterday, I’m beginning to think we are going to head into the abyss no matter what happens…

  11. Katiebird,

    Your snarkeness towards my comment makes you seem petty and small. Why are you so hateful?

    • With 1/2 a million families (potentially) losing their health insurance, your concern about the morons who don’t want government involvement in health care strikes me as either insensitive or absurd.

      In case you don’t know it, government has been involved in health care for a very long time. We’re just talking about the simple fairness of giving a little bit of help to everyone.

      My snarkiness makes me seem petty? I wish you could have read what I erased.

      • Yeah, it is petty. Anyone who disagrees with your preferred solution is a moron, and insensitive, and absurd? Anyone who has concerns about the extent of govt involvement is on the side of corporate murderers?

        I happen to be in favor of single-payer. Have been for years. But I don’t go around mocking and belittling and demonizing anyone who disagrees. I tend to converse with them, find out what their concerns are, and try to address those concerns.

        It’s called being an adult. (giggle)

        • Generally I would agree with you. But, something about “Jenny” struck me as trollish and I went with my instincts. And sure enough “Jenny” has commented here under several names and persona’s over the months.

          • Okay. I didn’t know if she was a regular “known” poster, and sometimes that does make a difference. I’m more likely to give the benefit of the doubt to posters that I strongly disagree with if I know they are good folks whom I’ve engaged with in the past. Trolls and drive-bys are different.

          • Leave it up – for the lols

          • Sorry — I took out a comment saying I was going to delete the conversation. But, I changed my mind and that deleted comment is what myiq2xu was referring to.

    • Your comment makes you look vapid and silly.

      If you think KB is hateful you obviously haven’t got a clue.

    • “Hateful” is a loaded and inappropriate word to use about another commentator.

      Stick to the topic and make your arguments about that — not about a commentator’s supposed personality.

    • Jenny, we’re all snarky here–that’s our style. Don’t take it so personally. We debate with a strong dose of snark.

  12. The Republicans are grandstanding, the same way the democrats grandstanded and cried “OMG, teh evuhl Republicans are steamrolling and allowing us no input!” when they were the minority.

    A pox on both their houses. They are BOTH hypocrites.

    • watch out everyone i think we,seen this game before . i don’t trust what ever they do . this might just be other one of those . this kinda sounds like the ole bait & switch trick .

    • I agree WMCB.

      • Especially re: BO, who made his whole case based on “transparency,” while employing every trick he could use (in all his elections and battles) to get his way. His hypocrisy has always been the root of my dislike of him (besides the arrogance, and then ultimately the fraud…).

        • Agreed. “Trust” is very much an issue. If he meddles with what we have now, we may very well have worse than what we’ve been getting, because he has always talked out of both sides of his mouth.

  13. KB:

    You’ve got mail.

  14. Falstaff has another nice post in case you haven’t seen it yet:
    http://falstaff-falstaff.blogspot.com/2009/04/not-getting-it.html

    • Yes, it is – I’ve been thinking lately in a different direction but on the same line – we are indeed at a significant point in time and the O administration is wasting it. Instead of creating a great presidency and becoming a role model he is making a bigger mess than the Bush administration did.

      He could be restoring the Constitution, Bill of Rights, creating true parity for women, LBGT, etc. but, noooooo, instead he is very selfishly focusing on himself. What a waste. 😕

      • so true he could be undoing all the abuses on the Constitution, Bill of Rights, but instead it looks like hez out to . out do bush & on those same abuses

    • Had to laugh at this excerpt:

      ‘ As Big Tent Democrat put it, “that is one of the worst answers [of Obama’s] I have ever heard. It makes me question if Obama even understands what the problem is.” ‘

      Yeah, BTD, this is the candidate YOU thought was the best choice; no diff between him and Hill; etc., etc. Hillary would not only have understood the question, she’d have detailed a solution to it so fast BTD’s head would spin.

      (sighs)

    • That’s a great post. Thanks for linking to it. The writer makes many great points. But like so many folks, he seems to be afraid to call stupid for what it is.

      President Obama and his economic team, for all their impressive brain cells, clearly don’t understand this moment.

      Impressive brain cells? Ummm, you know, it’s okay to call a bi-racial man a supercilious idiot when in fact he is a supercilious idiot.

      As Big Tent Democrat put it, “that is one of the worst answers I have ever heard. It makes me question if Obama even understands what the problem is.”

      LOL! Of course Obama doesn’t understand what the problem is. He’s neither a problem solver nor a troubleshooter. He is a blame shifter and problem avoider. He’ll put a ton of effort into the tap dance but don’t expect him to actually fix anything. Even he admitted that his job is just to sell whatever he’s told to the American people. Who takes their car in for repair to the salesman who sold it to them?

  15. OT
    but remember Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese female political leader who has been under house arrest for more than a decade, well, she will have someone joining her. Mu Sochua, a female politician and human rights activist and also a nobel prize winner like Aung San Suu Kyi , will be sent to jail by the Cambodian government.
    I posted an article about her awhile back. She is the cambodian woman who tried to get more women represented in her government by mobilizing 25000 women to run for commune elections and succeeding in getting 900 of them elected. She is also in the battle against human trafficking and corruption in the Cambodian government.

    You can read her letter here http://tinyurl.com/c2raq6

    • Here is her letter

      As I Walk to Prison

      Between 1975-79, over 1.7 million Cambodian women, men and children were killed by the Khmer Rouge, among them my parents. The world community knew about it but watched from afar. Cambodia has come out of genocide and on the road to reconstruction but this stage of reconstruction is stuck and in many ways quickly falling back to point zero. 30 years after the genocide of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia has made some progress but too small. Over 2,000 innocent Cambodian women die every year of childbirth, at least one million Cambodian children go to bed hungry every night, hundreds of thousands Cambodian children and female youth are ruined in brothels, over 200,000 families have been brutally forced of their land and homes, and over 75% of Cambodia’s forests have now been destroyed. Innocent lives of my people could be saved if justice were served, if top leaders of my broken nation were less greedy, if development were meant for all.

      I left Cambodia as an innocent young adolescent because the Vietnam war was approaching and hundreds and thousands of sick, wounded and hungry families were already telling us that Cambodia was lost. I returned home 18 years later with two young children, to a nation in ruins. A new beginning gave us hope when the UN came to help Cambodia organize its first democratic election in 1993. It cost the world community 2 billion dollars. I became a leader in the women’s movement, moving communities and walking the peace walk in city streets and dirt roads to pray for non-violence. I joined politics and became the first woman to lead the women’s ministry that was lead by a man, campaigned nationwide to put an end to human trafficking, authored the draft law on domestic violence, signed treaties with neighboring countries to protect our women and children from being prosecuted as illegal migrants but to receive proper treatment as victims of sex slavery.

      I witness violence not as a victim but I listen to hundreds and thousands of women and children speak of the shame, the violation, the soul that is taken away when violence is afflicted on their bodies and on their minds. As a politician I always try to take action, to walk to the villages where life seems to have stopped for centuries, I challenge the top leadership of the government — I question international aid.

      Today, I am faced with the real possibility of going to jail because as self-defense I dare to sue the prime minister of Cambodia, a man who has ruled this nation for 30 years. Having been assaulted to the point where I stood half exposed in front of men, by a general I caught using a state car to campaign for the party of the prime minister, I found myself assaulted again, this time verbally by the prime minister who compares me to a woman hustler who grabbed men for attention.

      Within days my parliamentary immunity will be lifted so the court can “investigate” my case. This is normal procedure for politicians from the opposition party or human rights activists or the poor who cannot bribe court officials. I will be detained in the notorious prison of “Prey Sar” for as long as the courts wish to take.

      Many of my colleagues in the opposition, including my party leader have faced this fate for speaking out.

      Cambodia receives close to a billion dollars in 2009 from the international community, the USA contributing close to 60 million. Is the world still watching in silence while Cambodia is now ruled by one man? Is the world afraid to say that its aid is actually taking Cambodia backwards?

      Let no Cambodian children go to bed hungry anymore. Let no Cambodian woman be sold anymore.

      We must walk tall despite being people bent from the trauma of the Khmer Rouge, which is still a part of us. Let us not let our leaders and the world-community use this trauma to give us justice by the teaspoon.

      Let there be real justice.

      Mu Sochua
      Elected Member of Parliament
      Sam Rainsy Party

  16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY KATIE BIRD!!

  17. Right now I don’t care about the repubs. The dems are the majority now. Isn’t the senate suppose to have time to “deliberate”? I guess this (almost 20% of our economy) is going to be rammed through like the stimulus. I guess we have no say in this.

    • I guess I feel like the national dialog on this has dragged on long enough. If the Dems can ram this through with the result that we have Universal Affordable Health Care (I don’t have much expectation of Single-Payer) I’ll be happy enough.

      I have a lot of wishes. But, really — I’d just like to get something (rather than the nothing that we’ve got now) before I’m old enough for Medicare.

      I fully acknowledge that it’s the cowards way.

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